John Lackey, signed to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in December, made his debut in a Red Sox uniform on Saturday.
He did quite well, needing just 19 pitches (11 strikes) to cruise through two innings of work against the Twins. The right-hander collected one strikeout, two flyouts, and forced three groundouts.
“I felt like my delivery was on time, fastball was coming out pretty
decent for the first time,” Lackey said after the outing. “Just a good starting step.”
Lackey stuck mostly to his two-seam and four-seam fastball while also working in a few curves. Red Sox manager Terry Francona has not yet decided where his three potential No. 1 starters — Lackey, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett — will fit into Boston’s 2010 rotation, but it really doesn’t matter all that much. The Sox are stacked again, even more so with Lackey and his 3.81 career ERA on board, and should contend for the AL East crown all season long.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.